With regards to whether you can use a wok for making flatbread, the answer is YES! The flatbread has its roots in different cultures and civilizations. If you attempt to trace back the origins, you’ll find evidence of this in ancient Greece, Egypt, India, and in many other parts of the Middle East.
Before diving into how this is possible, it makes sense to understand what flatbread is, and how it differs from typical loaves of bread found in your local supermarket. At its core, it is unleavened bread, made with only flour, water, and salt as the main ingredients.
For those of you who know their way around a kitchen, you might already connect the dots. Since it is unleavened, it means there is no yeast involved in the making of this bread.
Many cultures prefer such unleavened bread due to their religious customs. Bread with yeast is left to ferment, and this produces trace amounts of alcohol. Although all the alcohol tends to evaporate when the bread bakes, cultures that do not allow consuming alcohol prefer not taking the risk in the off chance that everything doesn’t.
- 3 cups plain white flour
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 400ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons yogurt (optional)
- 1 cup) course cornflour (Polenta Flour)
- Heat the water until hand hot and then pour it into a large bowl.
- Sprinkle in the yeast and stir well until dissolved.
- Add the rest of the ingredients except the flour.
- Knead the ingredients into a very soft and somewhat sticky dough. Add more flour if too sticky. Add more water if too dry.
- Allow it to rest for about an hour.
- After an hour, heat a wok over a high flame.
- Sprinkle with the polenta flour on both sides and then carefully roll out into a thin flatbread.
- Turn the temperature down to low. If the temp is too high you will burn the flatbread.
- Roll the dough a little thinner than the recipe calls for, stretch out a bit more on your knuckles and then drape it onto the hot wok. Takes a couple minutes per side. Watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
- Cook for about 3 minutes and then turn over to finish cooking for about a minute.
Here is another recipe
- 2/3 cup lukewarm water
- 1 ½ teaspoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups flour (sifted)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Olive oil (to be wiped on the bottom of the wok)
- In a cup, mix the water, honey, and yeast, let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Transfer this mixture to a bowl so you can use your mixer. Add in ¾ of the flour and mix on low for about 1 minute. Don’t rush this!
- Add the rest of the flour and the salt, then switch to a dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes. If can also knead this by hand if you do not have a mixer.
- When finished mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise In a warm place until double in size, about 3 hours.
- Punch this dough down and let it rest for another 10 minutes.
- Put a small amount of flour on a work surface and divide the dough into four equal pieces. Then roll each one into 10”x12” ovals using a rolling pin. Turn your dough 1/2 to1/4 turn after each roll.
- Turn a wok, upside down on a gas burner, and heat on high for a few minutes. Before you put the dough on the wok, turn the heat down to low.
- Rub the wok with a paper towel soaked in olive oil and place the dough on the wok
- Flip the flatbread dough several times, every 35 to 40 seconds until brown spots start to appear.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
- If you have to wait, cover them with a towel. You can then spray with a bit of water before reheating and they will turn out perfectly.
How to use a wok for flatbread?
When you picture baking bread, woks aren’t the utensil that comes to mind. This vessel’s curved nature makes it a staple for a lot of Asian preparations that involve rice and a lot of mixing. How then can a wok be used for making flatbread?
The process is pretty straight-forward. Invert a wok over the stove and light it. As the wok heats up, roll out the dough and then drape it over the wok.
A round-bottomed wok works best.
As weird as this might look the first time you do it, trust me, this works. Make sure you don’t leave it on the wok too long; you’ll have yourself burnt bread.
Once you see parts of the bread turn golden brown, flip it and let the next side cook. Within no time, you will have a toasty piece of flatbread.
Why do woks work well for making flatbread?
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- First off, cooking it on a wok gives you the flexibility of making a larger flatbread.
- By using a wok, you can make more bread in less time, a win-win situation.
- Choosing thin carbon steel instead of cast-iron means the wok will heat and cool very quickly. This level of temperature control is perfect if you plan on making multiple batches of bread.
Although woks work well for making flatbread, do not use woks that have a non-stick coating. When you overturn the wok, the insides will come in contact with the flame. The intense heat can damage non-stick coatings. Make sure you use a carbon steel wok for this cooking experiment.
Cooking is a therapeutic form of art. Given that it is an art, it only makes sense to keep experimenting, innovating, and pushing the boundaries of your cooking adventures. If you have a carbon steel wok at home, flip it, and let’s make some old-fashioned flatbread ASAP.